The Blackhawks hosted a road watch party for season ticket holders at the United Center on Saturday as they faced Scott Darling and the Carolina Hurricanes.
On the ice, Tanner Kero returned after a length absence, affording coach Joel Quenneville the opportunity to move Nick Schmaltz back to the wing. Quenneville went with the same blue line, however, leaving Michal Kempny in the press box with Jordan Oesterle.
Unfortunately for the collection of season ticket holders at the UC and those watching in Carolina and at home, the Hawks didn’t get off to a great start. The Canes out-shot the Hawks 16-15 in the first period even with the Hawks having two power plays. Brock McGinn and Jeff Skinner scored 2:08 apart to give the home Canes a 2-0 lead after one.
Just as former Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger was leaving the penalty box in the second period, Alex DeBrincat put home his fourth of the season.
It was a fun change of pace for the rookie sniper, who had scored two of his previous three (and his two most recent) goals into an empty net.
Richard Panik was credited with an assist on Chicago’s first goal of the game, giving him 100 career regular season NHL points.
Sadly, the depression of Hawks fans was reignited a couple minutes later when McGinn scored his second of the game to extend the Canes lead to 3-1.
Through 40 minutes, the Canes had a 26-24 shot advantage, a two-goal lead and the Blackhawks were an 0-for on the power play again.
Thankfully, DeBrincat decided the game wasn’t going to end that easily.
DeBrincat sniped in his second goal of the night at 3:16 into the third to draw the Hawks back to within one.
Eight minutes later, it was Gustav Forsling’s turn to shine.
Panik and Brent Seabrook picked up the assists on Forsling’s first of the season and Chicago had stormed back to tie the game. Anton Forsberg was good enough in net and made a few good saves in the third period to keep the Hawks alive while the offense orchestrated a comeback.
Sixty minutes weren’t enough, however, and free hockey decided the game.
DeBrincat was feeling it all night and when he came on the ice during the overtime his confidence was evident. He attacked the offensive zone and left a nice drop pass for Brandon Saad who finished the comeback win with a rocket that somehow got through Darling for the winner.
Appropriately, Forsling and DeBrincat had the assists on Saad’s seventh goal of the season.
DeBrincat had three points and three takeaways in 14:25 impressive minutes.
Forsling had two points, four shots on net and four blocked shots in 21:26 as he gets back into the flow after missing time.
Panik had two assists and two hits in 14:30 after he hadn’t registered a point in seven games.
Even with Schmaltz at the wing and Kero back in the lineup, the Hawks got their ass kicked at the dot again. Jonathan Toews won half of his 18 faceoffs (while also picking up an assist, two hits and two takeaways) but the rest of the Hawks won only nine of 34 combined faceoffs. Kero won two of nine Artem Anisimov won six of 16, making it clear that the Blackhawks still have a glaring need at center.
Forsberg stopped 35 of 38 to earn the victory.
The Hawks are back on the ice back home at the United Center on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.